FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x

Started Aug 26, 2015 | Discussions
MoreGooderPhotos Contributing Member • Posts: 905
FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x

I'm a hiker and hobbyist photographer that likes to shoot landscape/waterfalls/interesting rocks/insect and so on. My RX10 serves me well for the most part except for it's low light capabilities. Dynamic range and low light ISO performance is becoming more important to me because I find myself increasingly out on the trail at the crack of dawn to capture the sunrise.

I'm skipping micro 4/3's and APS-C and moving right to FF for my next camera.

But, with the issue is lens choice. I was excited to read about the 24-70 as it would fit my needs. I'd prefer not to take lenses off on a dusty trail, thus a zoom with my typical focal lengths make sense. What's holding me back, though, is the mixed reviews of the lens.

I read an expression here recently that I thought was interesting and telling: You marry your lenses but you date your cameras. I don't want to marry the 24-70 f/4 FE because of the poor reputation. I have to think about the lens as an investment, not only because of the high price, but because it will hold its value far longer than a camera body. I also want better image quality than what I can get from my RX10 (otherwise what's the point?)

A few questions then:

  1. Does sharpening in PP mitigate the softness in the corners enough to make this issue a non-issue?
  2. At 24mm, does the distortion correction mean a noticeable image compromise in the pro's opinion?
  3. If I saved up and got the A7Rii, does the higher pixel count make the softness even more problematic? Or does the extra pixel density really mean that prints look sharper despite the lens performance at 100%?
  4. Are there other hikers/camera enthusiast like me out there? Did you wind up getting the 24-70 f/4 FE and deciding it's good enough when PP'd?

I'm temped to buy the 16-35 f/4 and a 55 f/1.8 for my needs but then there's the worry about dust on the sensor and my clumsy fingers.

I've printed one very nice 12 x 18 photo and a few smaller ones from my RX10, but I can really see that there's a quality trade-off, especially in darker areas. Granted, the mood and experience is still captured by the image, but I just can't help but long for even more image quality.

I also struggle with avoiding blown highlights on the RX10. I find myself exposing to the left rather than to the right to avoid blown out clouds and reflections off of water. Putting a polarizer on the camera means I loose too much light, and now I'm out on a trail without a tripod trying to handhold with a long shutter speed just to keep the iso <400.

Any helpful advice, especially regarding the worry about changing a lens, would be helpful.  Surely I'm not the only person out there that has gone through this thought experiment.

Thanks!

MGP

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JT26 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,309
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x
2

MoreGooderPhotos wrote:

I'm a hiker and hobbyist photographer that likes to shoot landscape/waterfalls/interesting rocks/insect and so on. My RX10 serves me well for the most part except for it's low light capabilities. Dynamic range and low light ISO performance is becoming more important to me because I find myself increasingly out on the trail at the crack of dawn to capture the sunrise.

I'm skipping micro 4/3's and APS-C and moving right to FF for my next camera.

But, with the issue is lens choice. I was excited to read about the 24-70 as it would fit my needs. I'd prefer not to take lenses off on a dusty trail, thus a zoom with my typical focal lengths make sense. What's holding me back, though, is the mixed reviews of the lens.

I read an expression here recently that I thought was interesting and telling: You marry your lenses but you date your cameras. I don't want to marry the 24-70 f/4 FE because of the poor reputation. I have to think about the lens as an investment, not only because of the high price, but because it will hold its value far longer than a camera body. I also want better image quality than what I can get from my RX10 (otherwise what's the point?)

A few questions then:

  1. Does sharpening in PP mitigate the softness in the corners enough to make this issue a non-issue?
  2. At 24mm, does the distortion correction mean a noticeable image compromise in the pro's opinion?
  3. If I saved up and got the A7Rii, does the higher pixel count make the softness even more problematic? Or does the extra pixel density really mean that prints look sharper despite the lens performance at 100%?
  4. Are there other hikers/camera enthusiast like me out there? Did you wind up getting the 24-70 f/4 FE and deciding it's good enough when PP'd?

I'm temped to buy the 16-35 f/4 and a 55 f/1.8 for my needs but then there's the worry about dust on the sensor and my clumsy fingers.

I've printed one very nice 12 x 18 photo and a few smaller ones from my RX10, but I can really see that there's a quality trade-off, especially in darker areas. Granted, the mood and experience is still captured by the image, but I just can't help but long for even more image quality.

I also struggle with avoiding blown highlights on the RX10. I find myself exposing to the left rather than to the right to avoid blown out clouds and reflections off of water. Putting a polarizer on the camera means I loose too much light, and now I'm out on a trail without a tripod trying to handhold with a long shutter speed just to keep the iso <400.

Any helpful advice, especially regarding the worry about changing a lens, would be helpful. Surely I'm not the only person out there that has gone through this thought experiment.

Thanks!

MGP

You have to get over the dust on sensor issue. You sound like me, parapoid about it and worry about it but in reality is not an issue whatsoever...

1 - Every sinlge interchangable lens camera will have something on the sensor, be as careful as you like but after a week there will be something there.

2 - Dust doesnt show up unless you are shooting at F16 or F22

3 - When dust does show up its very easily cloned out

4 - Sensors are easily cleaned, by you or better still a shop.

So in short try not to worry about that issue. Its not actually an issue ; 0

To your main question, the 24-70 lens aint great. Like a 2.5 / 5... If you can afford the 55mm and 16-35mm lenses without doubt that is your best option. I have both and the 16-35 is a solid 4/5 and the 55mm a solid 5/5. They are definitely a big step up from the 24-70, and no, lots of sharpening doesnt really help corner sharpness as it makes things look naf. Cant sharpen up OoF areas.

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Thomphoto Regular Member • Posts: 167
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x
1

Go for the 16-35 and the 55, and don't worry about dust on the sensor. Easy to clean the sensor, but if you are careful changing lenses, you will seldom have to. The 16-35 is fantastic lens, and the 24-70 is very good. I do not have the 55, but its on my bucket list.

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David Kieltyka
David Kieltyka Veteran Member • Posts: 5,422
A couple observations…
5

1) The 24–70mm isn't a great lens (in the corners) at 24mm & wider apertures but it's fine there once stopped down. I recommend f/11. IMO strongly negative reports are due to sample variation, general inexperience with 24–70 zooms or people making declarations about equipment they haven't actually used.

2) All my wider lenses, whether native FE (including the 24–70) or adapted, perform better in the corners on my A7r2 than my A7r. Not hugely but noticeably. Maybe throwing more photosites into the mix improves things, maybe the BSI tech helps with angle-of-incidence issues, maybe there's some smarter processing going on…or maybe it's some combo of the these. Whatever, I'll take it.

-Dave-

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 2,961
Re: no worries

"...I'm temped to buy the 16-35 f/4 and a 55 f/1.8 for my needs but then there's the worry about dust on the sensor and my clumsy fingers..."

I would not worry about this at all. Seems to be a far better choice than 24-70. Courage!

(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 2,961
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x
1

"... Dust doesn't show up unless you are shooting at F16 or F22.."

I think that is false. Dust sits on the sensor and therefor is independent of lens f-stop. What you are thinking about is dust between the lens elements. All other points I agree. Dust does not worry me (and I live in the desert).

Bob Tullis
Bob Tullis Forum Pro • Posts: 37,427
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x

Alpha Photo wrote:

"... Dust doesn't show up unless you are shooting at F16 or F22.."

I think that is false.

Dust sits on the sensor and therefor is independent of lens f-stop. What you are thinking about is dust between the lens elements. All other points I agree. Dust does not worry me (and I live in the desert).

While dust may be present it is more readily discernible the more one stops down.   If you don't stop down past f/5/6 or so much you may well have quite a bit of dust and never realize it, unless the motes are relatively large.

Point your camera at a light colored wall, use MF to insure the wall is NOT in focus, stop down to f/22 and take a shot (doesn't matter if it's a longer exposure than is reasonable for sharpness).  You may be surprised.   The light is less scattered and is shone more perpendicular to the sensor the more the lens is stopped down, the better to cast distinct shadows from the dust may be present.

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Derek Dean
Derek Dean Senior Member • Posts: 2,070
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x
4

First, I understand your trepidation. When I first bought my A7ii, I completely wrote off the 24-70 f4 because of the bad reviews, and instead got an Fe 55mm 1.8 and the FE 28 f2.0.

Those are both outstanding lenses, but I missed having a zoom, so I took a chance and ordered the FE 24-70 f4, used. Gee, what a nice surprise when it arrived to find out it was pretty darn good. Not perfect, but after testing and using for a few days, I realized it was a keeper.

I'm not a pro, although I've shot weddings etc. over the years, and now I just shoot for fun, and FOR ME, the 24-70 is a FUN lens to shoot with, and plenty good for what I do, which is occasion 13x19 prints.  It's sharp in the center even wide open, and does pretty well in the corners, with stopping down a bit making it even better.  Great color and contrast, with excellent bokeh, and it balances really well on the A7ii.

So, I wouldn't take the 24-70 f4 off your list just yet, but if you decide to go that way, make sure you have a good return policy to fall back on in case you're not happy with your copy.

I also like your idea of the 16-35mm and 55mm f1.8. That would be superb combo. My only real problem with the 55 f1.8 is that it didn't focus nearly close enough for my needs, but other than that, it's super sharp with wonderful rendering.

So, I don't think you'll go wrong either way, with the safe bet being the 16-35 and 55mm combo, but I really like my 24-70mm f4 and would suggest you try one if you can.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide and how it works, out.

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jwinberg1 Contributing Member • Posts: 692
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x

MoreGooderPhotos wrote:

I'm a hiker and hobbyist photographer that likes to shoot landscape/waterfalls/interesting rocks/insect and so on. My RX10 serves me well for the most part except for it's low light capabilities. Dynamic range and low light ISO performance is becoming more important to me because I find myself increasingly out on the trail at the crack of dawn to capture the sunrise.

I'm skipping micro 4/3's and APS-C and moving right to FF for my next camera.

But, with the issue is lens choice. I was excited to read about the 24-70 as it would fit my needs. I'd prefer not to take lenses off on a dusty trail, thus a zoom with my typical focal lengths make sense. What's holding me back, though, is the mixed reviews of the lens.

I read an expression here recently that I thought was interesting and telling: You marry your lenses but you date your cameras. I don't want to marry the 24-70 f/4 FE because of the poor reputation. I have to think about the lens as an investment, not only because of the high price, but because it will hold its value far longer than a camera body. I also want better image quality than what I can get from my RX10 (otherwise what's the point?)

A few questions then:

  1. Does sharpening in PP mitigate the softness in the corners enough to make this issue a non-issue?
  2. At 24mm, does the distortion correction mean a noticeable image compromise in the pro's opinion?
  3. If I saved up and got the A7Rii, does the higher pixel count make the softness even more problematic? Or does the extra pixel density really mean that prints look sharper despite the lens performance at 100%?
  4. Are there other hikers/camera enthusiast like me out there? Did you wind up getting the 24-70 f/4 FE and deciding it's good enough when PP'd?

I apparently got a good copy of the 24-70, it holds up pretty well.  Wide open it does blur at the edges (worse at 24mm), improves as one stops down.  Amazingly, it is better on the A7RII than the A72.  I find it a quite useful lens.  The results should be better than your RX10.  The distortion correction does not degrade the image visibly.

I'm temped to buy the 16-35 f/4 and a 55 f/1.8 for my needs but then there's the worry about dust on the sensor and my clumsy fingers.

I've printed one very nice 12 x 18 photo and a few smaller ones from my RX10, but I can really see that there's a quality trade-off, especially in darker areas. Granted, the mood and experience is still captured by the image, but I just can't help but long for even more image quality.

I also struggle with avoiding blown highlights on the RX10. I find myself exposing to the left rather than to the right to avoid blown out clouds and reflections off of water. Putting a polarizer on the camera means I loose too much light, and now I'm out on a trail without a tripod trying to handhold with a long shutter speed just to keep the iso <400.

Any helpful advice, especially regarding the worry about changing a lens, would be helpful. Surely I'm not the only person out there that has gone through this thought experiment.

Thanks!

MGP

I find that a rocket blower deals with the sensor quite well, when needed.  I suspect you are quite over concerned about dust on the sensor.

All the best............ Jack

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Mark K
Mark K Veteran Member • Posts: 6,390
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x

24-70 has been with me together with a7r and...I have been with them in one or two of my trails. Not because of its softness at corners..or its sharpness but because of my own clumsiness.....I dropped 10-18 many times with my smaller Nex bodies.

If I were you, I will choose 24-70 over 16-35 for its versatility.

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Bob Tullis
Bob Tullis Forum Pro • Posts: 37,427
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x

IMO fear of changing lenses due to dust is not practical with an ILC. Dust happens. Spots in photos for the most part if evident are readily cleaned up in post with minor intervention. A minor annoyance, and to keep the sensor maintained it's a minor maintenance task to blow the sensor regularly (Rocket Blower), and to wet clean it as necessary. The latter may be intimidating at first, but it just becomes a routine task soon enough.

The thing to do is to stand over a bed or couch, and practice removing end caps and swapping lenses until you become confident with it. Practically speaking you should be able to change lenses w/o leaving the lens mount exposed for more than one second. Outdoors facing away from the wind is advisable, or wait for a lull in the wind (it often comes in waves). If possible have the camera point downwards (not always practical in the field, but if possible try it). Vacuum your bag, your end caps, blow both sides of the lenses before the trip.

I'm a bit disappointed in the 27-40/4 too, but as was said on a tripod stopped down it's fine. So I compose with a little room for crop or try to stay away from the extreme ends of the FL range, and try not to use IBIS if not necessary (not sure if that matters just yet, though Adam-T suggested it does).

The notion of a 16-35/4 and the 55/1.8 is very advisable as an alternative to the 24-70/4 (again, IMO).

FWIW, though. . .

. 12-40/4 f/11 33mm 1/3s (tripod)

. 26mm f/5.6 1/30s (tripod)

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tammons Veteran Member • Posts: 6,211
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x

You can also use Canon EF mount lenses and Sony A mount lenses so there are more to choose from in that range.

EdwardWestonNYC Contributing Member • Posts: 519
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x
2

The Zeiss 24-70mm is a perfectly fine lens in its class. Like someone else said most of the negative reports come from people with little to no experience in the 24-70mm zoom lens area or repeating what they've without actually owning the lens.

A zoom lens is usually best in its mid-range and less so at the ends (24mm and 70 mm) but really shines from 35mm-60mm

The price of the lens is also what got people. The lens when released was more expensive than other F/4 zooms in its range and I think people thought it meant it should perform better then the less expensive Canon option.

Also this was the first native wide angle focal length option on the FE mount system. A lot of landscape and pixel peepers bought it to shoot at 24mm and complained not really having the knowledge that 24mm and 70mm would be the weakest focal length of this or most zooms.

There was then a split between who wanted an f2.8 lens and those that felt the lens was too big for the FE mount system (especially since the A7II and A7R-II were nowhere around yet and the A7/R bodies are so much smaller). So you had both sides feeling a bit unhappy. The 2.8 crowd and the size/weight crowd.

Lastly, the prime lens options at the time (35mm 2.8 and 55mm 1.8) are remarkable lenses - but are fixed focal lengths.

All this being said - I own the 24-70mm and for what the lens design and uses are for- I find it to be perfectly fine lens. Especially now you can find it for $799 instead of $1200 USD.

ovlov Senior Member • Posts: 1,439
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x
1

I have the FE24-70 F4. I haven't been disappointed with it myself. It could be a bit better wide open I suppose. I did read lots of negative things about it prior to my purchase. I haven't seen an issue with dust.

Camley Senior Member • Posts: 1,777
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x

MoreGooderPhotos wrote:

But, with the issue is lens choice. I was excited to read about the 24-70 as it would fit my needs. I'd prefer not to take lenses off on a dusty trail, thus a zoom with my typical focal lengths make sense. What's holding me back, though, is the mixed reviews of the lens.

There are plenty of images available for download using this lens and you can open them and see for yourself.

I think that many people were hoping for another "super" FE lens. What we got is a good medium quality standard range zoom. It produces very nice images and many users (including myself) are happy with the lens.

  1. Does sharpening in PP mitigate the softness in the corners enough to make this issue a non-issue?
  2. At 24mm, does the distortion correction mean a noticeable image compromise in the pro's opinion?
  3. If I saved up and got the A7Rii, does the higher pixel count make the softness even more problematic? Or does the extra pixel density really mean that prints look sharper despite the lens performance at 100%?
  4. Are there other hikers/camera enthusiast like me out there? Did you wind up getting the 24-70 f/4 FE and deciding it's good enough when PP'd?

It requires a little extra sharpening compared to say the 16-35 f/4.

I am not a pro but I don't see any special problem with the images taken at 24mm after correction. This lens, like many mirrorless zooms from Sony and other manufacturers such as Olympus, is designed to be used with software correction.

I'm temped to buy the 16-35 f/4 and a 55 f/1.8 for my needs but then there's the worry about dust on the sensor and my clumsy fingers.

That would be stronger optically but I take the point about dust. Look at the images on the web and see if you find them OK. I would close down by a stop (I generally do that with any lens) which isn't a problem because of the camera's high ISO performance.

Any helpful advice, especially regarding the worry about changing a lens, would be helpful. Surely I'm not the only person out there that has gone through this thought experiment.

I don't like changing lenses in dusty conditions and I would use the 24-70 f/4. You can get some very satisfying images using it.

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AdamT
AdamT Forum Pro • Posts: 58,963
The FE24-70 is as good as ------>
2

The FE24-70 is as good as the best canon F4Ls and a damn sight better than any of the F4 and slower Nikon 24-XX/XXX zooms and the old canon 24-70L F2,8 Mk1 - I`ve pixel peeped it on a 36Mp A7R wideopen and it`d take the Nikon 24-70 F2.8 or the canon 24-70L F2.8 Mk2 to beat it (or the 24-105L to match it) even at the edges, of course the Oly 12-40 F2.8 beats it to a pulp but not suprising given that large lenses for tiny sensors are far easier to make

This makes the lens IMO fully usable as a working pro lens (as the 24-105L is)

What the FE24-70 is NOT is a stellar lens capable of matching the best F2.8 stuff (canon 24-70L Mk1 and Olympus 12-40 mainly) or worthy of the Zeiss Label . it`s not the worst lens bearing that label by any means, Sony have stuck it on some right coke bottles over the years ..

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JYPfoto Senior Member • Posts: 1,314
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x

The 24-70 is a very good lens in my opinion, it suffers from the price and the unfair comparison to 2.8 zooms.  The Nikon 24-120 f/4 suffers from softness at the wide end, I was never really impressed with the Canon 24-105 when I tried it, and the Sigma 24-105 Art lens is a pretty good lens, but large (82mm filter thread) and heavy.  The only one I haven't tried personally is the newer Canon 24-70 f/4.  So compared against that one, price for price, the Sony will seem overpriced.

Yes it has pretty bad distortion, and it's weaker towards the two extremes.  But for its versatility I like it.  I shoot it stopped down some when I want to improve corner sharpness, but at the end of the day I just shoot it wide open a lot and can't really complain.  Then again I'm not a landscape photographer and I don't stare into the corners and pixel peep.  I shoot mostly portraits where my subjects are mostly in the vicinity of the center where it's sharp.  It's primarily an outdoor lens for me, I'll swap over to a prime when I'm indoors or light falls.

For the full retail price, yes it's hard to purchase.  I got my copy for $700, which I think was a decent value.  Like I said before it suffers from the expectations of being the flagship zoom and trying to match the performance of a 2.8 zoom for the price and size of a f/4 zoom.

OP MoreGooderPhotos Contributing Member • Posts: 905
Re: FE 24-70 f/4: Holding me back from going to A7x
1

Wow. So many great replies! Thanks everyone.

I really like the idea of practicing changing a lens while standing over a bed. I will definitely do that. Regarding dust: I have lens cleaning down pretty well already. The biggest cause of me having to clean a lens is when I accidently touch the lens face or lens filter with a finger. I can't tell you how many times I've done that on my RX10.  With an ILC when I swap a lens I have three surfaces to worry about touching (assuming I remember to leave the front lens cap on). The rear glass from two lenses, and the surface of the sensor. Dust, in hindsight, appears to be the least of my issues. That's where practice comes in I suppose.  I imagine that the bigger and heavier lenses are more difficult to swap.

The sample photos posted in this thread are amazing! Thanks very much for posting them.

I did a quick study in LR where I used the metadata filter to show me what focal lengths I've used. For 2041, 1192 out of 5172 frames where shot at 8.8mm, which for an RX10 is a 24mm equivalent focal length for full frame. The next highest quantity, 842, was at the full zoom of 78.3mm, which is a 200mm equivalent focal length. The next biggest hump in the data was 246 photos at 12.83mm (35mm equivalent). And then, 189 photos at 18.21 (50mm equivalent). The rest of the photos were pretty evenly scattered, with more heavily weighted towards the shorter focal lengths. There were a relatively small number of photos at focal lengths between 25.71 (70mm) and 73.3 (200). If I had more time I'd throw all of my focal length metadata into Excel and create a distribution chart.  Focal lengths scattered between these data humps could easily have been different if I had zoomed with my feet instead of with the lens.

This is telling me that I favor wide angle to normal focal lengths, with the occasional telephoto. Most of those telephotos were taken to snap an ID photo of a bird in a tree and not serious attempts at composing a shot. I can tell you that with great certainty lugging around a long telephoto full frame lens on a hiking trek is just not likely to happen.

So, I think that I'll go with the 16-35 and 55 combo. The fact that 24mm is my most commonly used focal length tells me that I'd probably appreciate going even wider than 24, and that's just not possible with the 24-70.

Thanks everyone!

Now, I'm off to find some money hidden in the couch cushions.

MGP

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AdamT
AdamT Forum Pro • Posts: 58,963
Doubts about the 16-35
1

So, I think that I'll go with the 16-35 and 55 combo.

That is becoming popular with the A7R2 but from the samples I`ve seen of the 16-35 on the R2 from Liesayers posts, the edges are far worse at 16mm than the 24-70 (or my 24-70 anyway) at 24mm even at F4 . it didn`t look magnificent on the A7R either .. either Liesayer has a dud 16-35 or the lens isn`t what its cracked up to be

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Peter Foiles
Peter Foiles Senior Member • Posts: 1,759
Re: Doubts about the 16-35

AdamT wrote:

So, I think that I'll go with the 16-35 and 55 combo.

That is becoming popular with the A7R2 but from the samples I`ve seen of the 16-35 on the R2 from Liesayers posts, the edges are far worse at 16mm than the 24-70 (or my 24-70 anyway) at 24mm even at F4 . it didn`t look magnificent on the A7R either .. either Liesayer has a dud 16-35 or the lens isn`t what its cracked up to be

If you check the review at photozone.de they report a fair amount of field curvature at 16mm for this lens, that may be what you are seeing in Liesayers images. Its the long end at 35mm that the lens is weakest.

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